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Chain Medicine

New Yorker writer and surgeon Atul Gawande on why a chain restaurant—the Cheesecake Factory– might be the new model for healthcare.

 a patient waits in the halls of the trauma unit of the emergency room at Grady Hospital in Atlanta. (AP)

A patient waits in the halls of the trauma unit of the emergency room at Grady Hospital in Atlanta. (AP)

Time was, every doctor in America was the lone practitioner, taking patients and doing medicine by his or her own lights.  A lot has changed.  It’s going to change more, says my guest today, writer and surgeon Atul Gawande.  The new model?

It may be a restaurant chain, the Cheesecake Factory, he says.  A huge menu, lots of outlets, lots of centrally-crafted recipes and control.  “Big Med,” he calls it, with cookie-cutter medicine and tons of central oversight.  It could raise quality and cuts costs.  Or not.

This hour, On Point:  Atul Gawande, on the chain restaurant model for health care.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon, a writer, and a public-health researcher. His article on chain medicine appears in the current issue of the New Yorker.

Dr. Mark Girard, president of Steward Health Care Network, and a practicing interventional radiologist.

From Tom’s Reading List

New Yorker “The place is huge, but it’s invariably packed, and you can see why. The typical entrée is under fifteen dollars. The décor is fancy, in an accessible, Disney-cruise-ship sort of way: faux Egyptian columns, earth-tone murals, vaulted ceilings. The waiters are efficient and friendly. They wear all white (crisp white oxford shirt, pants, apron, sneakers) and try to make you feel as if it were a special night out. As for the food—can I say this without losing forever my chance of getting a reservation at Per Se?—it was delicious.”

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Dick West (Dr. Walter Richard West, Wah-pah-nah-yah or Wapah Nahya, Light Foot Runner), 1912−1996, Southern Cheyenne, Oklahoma. Cheyenne Sun Dance—The Third Day, 1949. Paper, casein, 24 5/8 x 35 1/8 inches. © 2013 Philbrook Museum of Art, Inc., Museum purchase, 1949.20, Photo: John Lamberton.

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The Rev. Jamal Bryant leads a rally outside of the Baltimore Police Department's Western District police station during a march and vigil for Freddie Gray, Tuesday, April 21, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP)

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